A comprehensive, scholarly and fascinating study of the end of the British Empire.
No empire has been larger or more diverse than the British Empire. At its apogee in the 1930s, 42 million Britons governed 500 million foreign subjects. Britannia ruled the waves, and a quarter of the earth’s surface was coloured red on the map. Where Britain’s writ did not run directly, its influence, sustained by matchless industrial and commercial sinews, was often paramount.
Yet no empire (except for the Russian) disappeared more swiftly. Within a generation, this mighty structure sank almost without trace leaving behind a scatter of sea-girt dependencies and a ghost of empire — the Commonwealth. Equally, it can be claimed that Britain bequeathed its former colonies economic foundations, a cultural legacy, a sporting spirit, a legal code and a language more ubiquitous than Latin ever was.
Full of vivid particulars, brief lives, telling anecdotes, comic episodes, symbolic moments and illustrative vignettes, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire evokes remote places as well as distant times.